I recently read a story on npr.org about Shalon Irving, an epidemiologist at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Shalon was 36-years old and had a newborn daughter, Soleil. Three short weeks after becoming a mommy, Shalon collapsed and died. Although Shalon’s death is tragic, she is only one example of black women who die at 3x the rate of white women and women of other races because of pregnancy related causes.
This number is startling and reveals a racial disparity in healthcare that needs to be examined and eliminated. A paragraph in the article truly struck a chord, “The researcher working to eradicate disparities in health access and outcomes had become a symbol of one of the most troublesome health disparities facing black women in the U.S. today: disproportionately high rates of maternal mortality. The main federal agency seeking to understand why so many American women — especially black women — die, or nearly die from complications of pregnancy and childbirth had lost one of its own.”
Why does this disparity exist and what can be done to reduce and eventually eliminate it? Our blog posts over the coming weeks will examine all stages of pregnancy and the increased risks that black women face during each stage:
Stay tuned for future posts on this subject. I would encourage you to read Shalon’s entire story at npr.org as it was the inspiration for this series. The article is a great introduction to a wider story and its key points are made personal through Shalon’s experience.